The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), founded in 1949 as a military alliance between 12 North American and European countries, has today 29 members. According to the principle of collective defense enshrined in Article 5 of the Washington Treaty, an armed attack against one NATO Ally is considered as an attack against all NATO Allies. After the September 11 attacks against the United States, NATO invoked Article 5 for the first time in its history. In September 2014, the Alliance issued a clarification of Article 5, extending its scope to include cyberspace in addition to “physical space”. Since then, NATO’s strategies to counter terrorism have developed over the years. The Alliance’s Strategic Concept sets out NATO’s security tasks and reaffirms a deterrence and defense approach. The Strategic Concept is based on prevention and resilience policies on crisis management, collective defense and security.


NATO Policy Guidelines on Counterterrorism (2012)

The Guidelines focus on three main pillars: increase ‘shared awareness’ of terrorist threats/risks (1); develop capabilities to counter them (2), and engage in partnership with countries to enhance their strategies in countering terrorist threats (3).

The Alliance’s Strategic Concept (2010)

The Alliance’s Strategic Concept is based on crisis management, collective defense and security. 

Alliance Cyber-Defence Policy

The Alliance Cyber-Defence Policy officially recognizes that Article 5 on collective defense applies to cyberspace.  

NATO Industry Cyber Partnership (NICP)

The NICP aims to reinforce cyber defense strategies by strengthening the relationship between the private sector and Alliance members.

Partnership Action Plan Against Terrorism (2002)

The Partnership Action Plan Against Terrorism explains how Member States of the Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council propose to counter-terrorism. The plan includes “regulatory provisions barring the financing of terrorist activity”.


Allied Command Transformation (ACT)

The four principal functions of the ACT are strategic thinking (1); development of capabilities (2); education, training and exercises (3); co-operation and engagement (4).

Centre of Excellence of Defense against Terrorism (COE-DAT)

COE-DAT provides key policymakers with counter-terrorism expertise. It offers education and training for NATO and partner countries’ personnel. These include courses on “Terrorist Use of Cyberspace” (March 2019) and “Critical Infrastructure Protection from Terrorist Attacks” (May 2019).

Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE)

The Cooperative Cyber Defence Centre of Excellence is a Foreign Military Organization that works to improve communication and cyber defense cooperation between Member States. The CCDCOE cooperated with a group of world renowned experts to produce the Tallinn Manual, a non-binding academic study on the application of law to cyber warfare.

Counter-Terrorism Implementation Task Force (CTITF)

The CTITF’s goal is to ensure that each of the 38 task forces has all the necessary means to support and provide counter-terrorism expertise to Member States.

NATO Communications Information Agency (NCIA)

NCIA works closely with Member States in order to prevent cyber attacks against NATO’s communication systems.

NATO Science and Technology Organization (STO)

The Science and Technology Organization ensures that NATO has the most advanced technology to respond to cyber security threats. 

NATO Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence (STRATCOM)

The Strategic Communications Centre of Excellence contributes to the successful implementation of NATO missions and operations by issuing a comprehensive and impactful communications strategy.

North Atlantic Council

The North Atlantic Council (NAC), NATO’s principal political decision-making body, includes the Cyber Defense Committee, which oversees NATO’s cyber defense policy and gives recommendations to member countries.